OTTAWA—Military veteran James Topp, who has almost completed his walk from Vancouver to Ottawa to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, was in Ottawa on Wednesday to meet with MPs.
So far, Topp’s journey has taken him to Deep River, about 200 kilometres west of Ottawa. He drove to the capital for the meeting with MPs before the House of Commons goes on summer break on June 23.
Topp will duly complete the trek on foot on June 30, walking from the suburb of Kanata to the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa.
“The journey has been arduous, physically challenging, but at the same time, it has allowed me to connect with my fellow Canadians in a way that I never would have thought possible,” Topp told around 20 MPs.
The combat veteran told the MPs—all of them Conservatives—that he’s seeing a “divide” in Canada that he’s only seen before in a war zone.
“I would like for us to repair the divide that has been created by the imposition of these mandates, and by the overall overbearing nature of some of the policies that have been pushed down on us,” said Topp.
MPs shook hands and posed for pictures with Topp, and some of them took the floor.
“I appreciate the non-partisan bent you guys are taking here today. It’s very professional. The reality is there’s one political party that has been represented around this table here today,” said Jeremy Patzer.
Patzer noted that he had recently (on June 6) presented a petition in the House for the lifting of mandates.
“You have support. You’ve had support all along. It takes a lot of work and effort to get that message out because it’s a message that, in this Ottawa bubble, was not a popular one,” said Patzer.
Topp has been affected by the mandates in the military, due to his current service in the Reserves, and the one imposed on the RCMP where he works as a civilian.
Topp started his walk on Feb. 20 from the Terry Fox statue in downtown Vancouver, after appearing a few days earlier in dress uniform at an anti-mandate protest and making his views known in videos.
Topp faces two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline under the military code for those actions, on top of a pending administrative release under the 5f code, “Unsuitable for further service.”
This type of release is normally reserved for military personnel who develop “personal weaknesses” or have other problems that “seriously impair their usefulness” or makes them an “excessive administrative burden” on the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
It’s currently being used to release soldiers refusing COVID-19 vaccination.
Lawyer Philip Millar, a former CAF combat arms veteran who is representing Topp, says it doesn’t make sense to release someone like Topp who is healthy and strong enough to walk across Canada.
“The man is healthy, but you want to kick him out? It blows my mind,” Millar told The Epoch Times.
Even though Topp elected to be court-martialled for his initial charges, the military removed the charges and re-laid them without the option for a military court, says Millar, which means Topp is now facing “much more reduced penalties, like probably a fine.”
For the event with the MPs, Topp was flanked by Tom Marazzo and Dr. Paul Alexander, both of whom were involved with the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa this winter.
Marazzo, also a military veteran, was a spokesperson for the convoy and recently ran for the Ontario Party in the Ontario elections. He currently works with the organization Veterans for Freedom, which is helping coordinate some of Topp’s activities.
“We are an apolitical organization, we’re not interested in tipping the balance for one party over another—that’s not our interest,” Marazzo said. “What our interest is, is repairing Canada. We want you to be a partner, we want the Government of Canada to be a partner to that end,” he told the MPs.
Alexander, an epidemiologist who worked on the COVID task force under the Trump administration, spoke at length about how he says the pandemic was mismanaged by governments.
“There is no evidence anywhere to keep emergency powers in place, or any of these mandates. COVID is done. It is over and it is time society moves forward,” he said.
Among the Tory MPs who attended were Dean Allison, Cheryl Gallant, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Arnold Viersen, Leslyn Lewis, Ted Falk, Tako Van Popta, Warren Steinley, Damien Kurek, Martin Shields, James Bezan, Ryan Williams, Gerald Soroka, John Barlow, Melissa Lantsman, and Brad Vis.